Within a comfortable 3.5 hours commute from Sophia, tiny Melnik is the ideal destination for weekenders from the capital, but also some German and French tourists can be heard. Centuries ago a commercial center, now this small village lives of the tourists that flock into the picturesque village.
Sand-colored cliffs provide a spectacular backdrop for this picturesque village, some of them come in the wildest shapes, very similar to those the Meteora monasteries are perched on. Well, Greece is only 20 kilometers to the south. Remnants of ancient churches dot the area. Especially rewarding is the view from what is left of the 13th century fortress high up on the rim.
Once tourist stop awing at the cliffs and are done visiting a few churches, it is time for some serious “degustatsia”, wine sampling. The numerous Mehanas, traditional restaurants, offer Balkan specialties like Shopska Salad (chopped tomatoes, cucumber, topped with shredded feta cheese), cold yogurt soup, Kebabche, sausage made of ground beef, and many other meaty dishes.
Every building along the empty creek that runs through the village is now a hotel or restaurant. The village gets really busy on weekends, when the taverns light up their huge fire-place-like barbecues.